October 17th, 2011
12:13 PM ET

'Occupy' movement goes global as a symbol of shared economic frustration

Editor's note: iReporters all over the globe are showing us what Occupy Wall Street is like in their towns and cities through the Open Story: from the Aleutian Islands to Raleigh, North Carolina; from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Zadar, Croatia. Check out a map of the reports, videos and pictures here.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which swept across the United States as thousands demanded that government institutions change to help fix a struggling economy, gained a major boost as the world began to come together in solidarity over shared economic frustrations.

As the sun rose on each country, one-by-one in the same way each stock market would open, protesters took to the streets. What began as a movement that was largely ignored by the mainstream media can't be dismissed anymore, not when thousands of people are sharing rally cries from Zucotti Park in New York to City Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark. Perhaps that's what organizers hoped for when they called the global day of protest "Solidarity Saturday."

But that global push may not end with the one day of solidarity. Some would say it has bolstered the ambitions and confidence of those who began Occupy Wall Street. It was a hint that, with the right support and organization, they can spread the message they've so desperately tried to get across: They want change, and they want it now. And even though the frustrations and complaints may differ from country to country, the theme remains that governments aren't handling economic crises properly.

The protests spread amid the growing financial troubles for several Western countries. Maybe that's why it's no surprise the global movement came during a G20 meeting of ministers and bankers in Paris. Finance ministers with the Group of 20 pledged Saturday to take "all necessary actions" to stabilize global markets and ensure that banks are capitalized.

Europeans turned out to protest amid debt troubles and austerity plans in Greece, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Germany. And in an increasingly intertwined global economy where Americans watch what happens in the Greek debt crisis, the world too is watching to see how the United States is handling its economic issues.

In the spirit of that solidarity, thousands stepped out to support the frustrations of the unemployed in the U.S. and, in some cases, to share their own grievances.

We're taking a look at scenes from across the world to find out more about the main frustrations being lodged and how the protests are drawing support from each other through the lenses of our reporters and iReporters around the world.


The movement gained traction in London especially because of the presence of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Some Brits, who have not been shy to share their frustrations with their economic situation during riots months earlier, echoed American sentiments that governments need to focus not just on the rich but on the little man.

Amedeo d'Amore , an iReporter, was at a demonstration near St. Paul's Cathedral, where he said there were about 1,500 to 2,000 protesters along with a few hundred police officers.

Protesters gather at the London Stock Exchange on Saturday.

"Essentially, they are very disappointed by the current economic system," he said. "From my understanding, they feel that governments have done too much to protect companies while doing very little to assist the average citizen."

iReporter Hao Li was also at the London protests and said the activists were mostly young people between 20 to 30 years old. They didn't appear to represent the overall "general population" of London or the United Kingdom. It was more politically active young people rather than those who have suffered from the financial crisis, he said.

Assange's message did echo some of the common messages from Occupy Wall Street, Li told CNN's iReport.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at protests in London, England.

"He did say several times that the current financial system was unsustainable (and) made a few jabs at the greed and evilness of bankers in London who caused people so much harm," Li said.

Kyle Meyr's photos  showed signs portraying the banks in the UK as the real looters, referring to the summer riots. But Meyr found that like in New York, there was an apparent lack of cohesion as to what the protests centered around.

"The crowd was amazingly enthusiastic, but you could see that a good number of them were confused about what they had come out to protest. It seemed that a lot of them had mixed agendas and scattered ideas of where these protests should be going," Meyr said. "Some tried aggression and yelling, others handed out fliers, and the rest seemed to just be along for the ride.

"To be completely honest, I cannot decide on one unifying theme of the protest. Most were there to show their hatred for the government bailouts for banks, and others hated the banks themselves, but there were a few that just seemed to dislike wealthy people in general."


John Sprankle was alongside demonstrators in Paris who were showing solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

He said that while posters seemed to indicate the economy was at the heart of the protest, he wasn't sure whether there was a solidly common theme.

"I don't see anyone offering solutions. There doesn't seem to be a unified voice," he said.

He also felt some came out to be part of the movement without really being involved in the cause.

"I also believe the majority of the marchers don't even know what they are marching about and see it more as a party," he said. "In fact, I'd say if anyone can camp put anywhere for six weeks, they are definitely not producing and paying taxes, so they have nothing to protest against."


At the protests in Rome, things took a particularly violent turn. Firefighters battled a blaze at an Interior Ministry building near Porta San Giovanni, the main gathering site of the Italian protesters taking part in the Occupy movement Saturday.

Ernesto Gygax documented the protests near the famous Basilica of St. John Lateran, where police struggled to keep violence from turning deadly. A spokesman for Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who condemned the violence, said that 70 people were injured, 40 of them police officers.

The protesters - some wearing ski masks and belonging to a group called Black Bloc - torched cars, broke windows and clashed with police.

Jeremy T. Katz captured the mood of the demonstrators.

"'The leaders were holding a sign that said, "PEOPLE OF EUROPE: RISE UP,' " he said.

Katz said the crowd was primarily peaceful and appeared to be normal working-class citizens. They chanted demands in Italian, he said. Generally, the group appeared upbeat "but clearly angry with the EU and Italian officials."

"Their main demands seemed to revolve around the failure of their government and the EU to handle the economic crisis. They protested job cuts and tax increases, as well as the "greedy" big banks and corporations. I could tell they were also upset that the Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi, had not been voted out of office yesterday."

Katz too saw violence at the protests.

"Further back, there was a group of more violent protestors who lit two cars on fire and smashed the windows of a post office and a bank," he said.

Oslo, Norway

Siri Klemetsaune went to observe the OccupyOslo movement in Norway and said that about 100 people turned out for the protest near Stortinget, the parliamentary building.

Klemetsaune, who said she is unemployed and on welfare, said the turnout was larger than expected.

Demonstrators gather at OccupyOslo in Norway.

"Despite the initial grim sound of OccupyOslo in light of recent events, a fairly major crowd of approximately 100 people gathered outside the governmental building on October the 15th to show their support of the Occupy Wall street movement," Klemetsaune told CNN's iReport. "This in a country in which the entire population might as a matter of fact be a part of the infamous 1%."

Klemetsaune, 29, is "fairly OK" with the government's rule in Norway for now.

"But the future worries me. The system of ruling appears to need a change, before we fall into the trap America has fallen into," Klemetsaune said. "Now, I’m not sure how to end this. But let’s just say that even though we are filthy rich and privileged, we stand by the people of the worlds side. Occupying."

Copenhagen, Denmark

Mikkel Wiese was with demonstrators in Copenhagen.

He said there were young and old side-by-side with parents and children, those who were politically active and those who had lost their jobs.

Movement leaders share their message in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"They want money spent on the 99%, and they want to take it not only from the rich but also from the expenses on wars," he said. "I have sympathy with the peacefully minded protesters and their concern for the poor."

Wiese sent pictures of the large-scale demonstrations where messages were shouted through megaphones and signs proclaimed that change was in the hands of the protesters.

Signs show the frustration from those at protests in Denmark.


Sarah E. Matson was in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where protesters are "demanding an end to corruption in the financial world and more attention for the middle class," she said.

"I totally agree, which is why I was there," Matson told CNN's iReport.

Matson said everyday people took turns at the microphone, speaking both in Dutch and English.

Protests also took place in Netherlands, Amsterdam.

"The complaints were as varied as they were poignant," she said. "(There was) a refugee from the Philipines, a student from Amsterdam, older protesters remembering a similiar protests years earlier and young organizers making it clear that change needs to happen for the world to become a safe, cleaner and less corrupt place."

RekyjavĂ­k, Iceland

Halldor Sigurdsson was at a rally in solidarity with the global Occupy movement in RekyjavĂ­k, Iceland.

"The people were angry and said what the think about the financial system in Iceland and all over the world," he said. "They want the government to stop helping those that are responsible for the banking crisis while the public gets little help."


Jason Ward, a Los Angeles native visiting Tokyo on a three-week trip, was at a demonstration where he said roughly 300 demonstrators took part in the solidarity movement.

"The crowd was about 80% Japanese and 20% American tourists, with signs in both Japanese and English," he said.

Demonstrators show solidarity with signs in Tokyo, Japan.

"Though there were chants about corporate greed, it was predominantly an anti-nuclear movement. The numbers weren't huge, but the folks I talked to seemed very inspired by what was happening in the U.S."

Taipei, Taiwan

Keith Perron, a radio journalist living and working in East Asia, was with people protesting in Taipei, Taiwan.

"The police presence was not big. Very small, in fact," he said. "After the crowed walked around the Taipei 101, they were let in the Taipei 101 in an orderly fashion, which was very unexpected."

Perron said he believed that about 85% of the crowd was between the ages of 18 and 30.


Yusur Al Bahrani was with the Occupy Toronto movement that marched through the streets of the city's downtown area.

He described the protesters as being from different communities and having "different political perspectives, but they all share one thing: being against war, militarism and corporate greed."

Al Bahrani said the demonstrators also demanded job opportunities and opportunities for the work force.

"I totally agree with them," he told CNN's iReport. "I am the 99%"

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Filed under: Canada • Economy • Europe • France • Iceland • Italy • Japan • Jobs • Julian Assange • Netherlands • Norway • Occupy Wall Street • Taiwan • U.S. • United Kingdom
soundoff (1,288 Responses)
  1. Katherine

    I know for sure that there are more citizens than police officers and people from all over the states can descend on one city, one park where the police are abusing the protestors.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArizonaYankee

      HUH !! Police are enforcing the LAW. and our nation is a Nation of LAWS. I guess you don't get it and likely don't understand Illegal either. People like you come from the bottom of the gene pool and if you ever prevail, we will be a 4th world country.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard

    regarding bank fees, most banks waive the fees with a 5k min balance. Just keep a few extra bucks in your acct and you can avoid them

    October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      Yes because most of us are not already living paycheck to paycheck and can keep $5,000 in the bank.......sarcasm noted yet?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      How easy is that if you're paycheck to paycheck or if your healthcare costs sky rocket?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      easy for me, just save more. ie dont spend all your paycheck

      October 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capitan

      That's fine if you have that much to spare. If you're barely making ends meet, it's harder to do. I'm able to do that now, but when I was in college I had to work a landscapping gig or work in a restaurant kitchen. In order to pay bills and rent, nowadays you have to have a checking account. And I realize it doesn't sound like much, but there were times when $5 meant whether I ate a meal or not. I also realize that banks do this now because they don't want to eat the $.45 or whatever it is now they get charged per usage, whereas it used to be the businness where the card was swiped. that small change adds up, but when Citi posts profits of $2.2 Billion, it's obviously not that big of a hit...


      Just my two cents that I know you didn't ask for.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Richard, there are quite a lot of people in this world that don't have a spare 5K to put into a bank. And where or from whom does this extra hour of work come that you speak about? There are quite a lot of people who make minimum wage at one or two jobs and don't even have that extra hour, let alone that extra 5K to keep in a bank account.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. conradshull

    No More War!*

    *Marxist Revolutionaries excluded
    *Anti American activities excluded
    *Anti Western Civilization activities excluded
    *Any other war activities we feel like excluding excluded

    October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Survival of the Fittest

    Look at these outstanding citezens. I wonder why these protestors are unemployed (working at a music or coffee shop 3 days a week does not count as employment) and are not part of the 1%. If darwinism applied to people we would not have to deal with this movement.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      What a lovely shade of disrespect you're sporting...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • jboHDrider

      I hope you are not equating luck with being boarn rich or making money with survival of the fitest in terms of surving if the world economy collapses, then you are not too bright. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RillyKewl

    Repeal Gramm-Leach-Bliley.
    Write your senators + representatives today.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beatriz

    I was going to write exactly what you did. Started in Spain. Why is it that Cnn don't check facts before posting on his web page? Does the USA wants the credit for it??

    October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • bsitz

      Didn't realize wall street was in Spain....amazing what you can learn on these forums.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      What started here were the credit default swaps + the short-sells betting against them. Followed-up with bail-outs of the too-big-to-fail banks + AIG. Followed by record bonuses. That created the greatest wealth gap the US has seen in 60 years.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ajgorm

    What will happen to incentive if this madness continues.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. holy %$#*

    this looks like WW1 all over again

    October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. conradshull

    One sign you won't see: "I'm an Economics Major"

    October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Richard

    My wife and I live on 380K-420k a year. We have a large house, a boat, and four cars.. Even with an okay income we have lots of expenses for our house and cars. For example an oil change on our BMW's is over 100 dollars. All I am saying is that we all have different incomes and different expenses. Not sure what its like to protest, other then a quick glace from a towncar, but it doesnt really look like fun, esp when it rains. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. You could have always forgone an hour of tv to work more..

    October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • bsitz

      Thanks for sharing......d***

      October 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Spin

      Richard, you have GOT to be kidding with this comment. You, my friend, are among those doing well. With the income you and your wife enjoy, any financial problems you have are of your own making because of the lifestyle you chose to live. You have no idea what it is to struggle in today's economy. You can always sell two of your cars and your boat if times get tough and buy a smaller home. There are people who cannot afford the necessary items in life–rent/mortgage/food/insurance, etc. Think about it...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      and I suppose you'd rather die than go back to the Clinton-era tax rates, right?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      buy a smaller home? I am looking for a bigger one. Why would I get a smaller home?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      Believe it or not most people can't afford what you own Rich..There are people making less than you and put in 60-80 on just minimum wage jobs. People who grow up in low income families find it VERY difficult to find the money to afford school. Even then school these days a Bachelor's degree is equivilent to high school degree 20 yrs ago. You state this "If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. You could have always forgone an hour of tv to work more.." Which in my opinoin just goes to show everyone just how "your" people be-little the rest of society. Carefull not to anger us with your idiotic statements we the people out number you 100 to 1.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Techie

      **** Chic liberal Warning **** Good try Richard... Just shows how desperate the left has become.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • LINDY

      Richard – YOU are what we protest the notion that if we aren't working we're lazy or aren't trying, something all the wealthy want to believe is true but isn't. Have you ever watched or read the job search stories 60 min or CNN does these people are working themselves to death trying to get ahead (perhaps your car t.v doesn't get 60min?)I hope you lose your cushy job and then when you can't find another job, lose your house cars & boats then you can be considered stupid & lazy too! p.s You don't experience life looking on.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      He is clearly a Troll. He realizes this is a heated situation, and what better way to get a few giggles then by inciting people with anger? Leave him be.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ajgorm

    Socialists always create fanatics where else will the conservative emege from. People never learn from thier mistakes unless you keep reminding them of their previous ones.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Techie

    The Prophet Obama has failed miserably and the Chic Liberals are desperately trying to find a new story. This is the best they could come up with: Some druggie hippy wannabes and some older folks who robo signed for an oversized home with an adjustable rate mortgage and now want to blame wall street. Come on cold weather....early winter please...

    October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. vince

    Join the 99% at occupythewhitehouse . net

    October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. xnay

    Italy and Spain are great places to start a business. Not

    October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Spacial

    Not to worry as when China becomes the new biggest of the big superpowers they will take care of the rest of us.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
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